Former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) son yesterday criticized the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), alleging that it was creating social confrontation by amending laws that revoke perks enjoyed by the former head of the state.
“It’s reprisal legislation directed against my father and it violates the basic principle of law — that one is innocent until proven guilty,” Chen Chih-chung (陳致中) told a press conference.
The legislature on Thursday passed an amendment to the Act Governing Preferential Treatment for Retired Presidents and Vice Presidents (卸任總統副總統禮遇條例) introduced by the KMT caucus.
The amendment stipulates that former presidents and vice presidents will be stripped of courtesy treatment, including their monthly allowance and annual expenses, if convicted by a court of grave offenses, such as sedition and graft. The number of bodyguards assigned to former presidents and vice presidents who are convicted of corruption in a first trial will also be reduced.
This means that once the amendment takes effect within the next 20 days, Chen Shui-bian, who was found guilty of embezzlement in his first trial last year, will lose a monthly preferential payment of NT$250,000 (US$7,825) and his NT$6 million annual subsidy for administrative affairs. His bodyguards will be reduced to two.
Describing the amendment as revenge targeting his father, Chen Chih-chung, who is running in November’s Greater Kaohsiung councilor election, urged voters to join him in opposing the KMT.
Chen Chih-chung said the amended law would cause economic difficulties for the former first family. Without the administrative subsidy, his father’s office would be forced to shut down, he said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei mayoral candidate Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) also challenged the KMT over the amendment, saying the move would deepen confrontation between the pan-blue and pan-green camps.
“Politicized and controversial legislation will deepen social and political confrontations. The government should avoid such divides,” Su said.
Chen was sentenced to life in prison in September last year by the Taipei District Court on multiple counts of corruption. In June, the Taiwan High Court cut his jail term to 20 years.
According to the amended law, his benefits would be restored if he is cleared by the Supreme Court in a final verdict on the case.
Chen Shui-bian has blasted his trial as a vendetta carried out by the KMT administration in retaliation for his pro-independence stance during his 2000 to 2008 presidential term.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP